The Spring Branch ISD community is preparing for the 88th Texas Legislative Session, which runs from Jan. 10 to May 29, 2023.
“Since 2014, SBISD has paid over $472 million in recapture and has only received $168 million in state funding,” said SBISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jennifer Blaine. “We need legislators to address the formulas used to fund public education. As a Chapter 49 recapture district, the amount the state takes in local taxpayer dollars is not sustainable for SBISD.”
The state takes, or recaptures, nearly 20% of SBISD’s local tax dollars, with additional increases expected, putting SBISD on an unsustainable trajectory. This year, $87 million will be taken from the district, while also reducing its share of public education funding with little transparency about how those dollars are used.
To target this issue and raise awareness about the state public school finance model, SBISD brought a diverse group of parents and community members together to form the School Finance Advocacy Team (SFAT). The 63-member group engaged in four meetings to date, where they heard from experts and worked collaboratively to learn about school finance and the implications on SBISD.
“We encourage the community to be a part of ensuring that Spring Branch ISD maintains its strong reputation as a premiere school district,” said Christine Porter, Associate Superintendent for Finance. “We need the support and commitment to let the legislature know that this is critical for our district.”
SFAT members determined top priorities for the legislative session, including a basic allotment increase, automatic inflation adjustment, cost of education adjustment, early recapture payment discount and full credit for the local optional homestead exemption SBISD provides our taxpayers.
“Our district leaders, SFAT and our entire community must work together to convince our legislators to increase the basic allotment for educating students and ensure that money paid into recapture actually benefits schools,” said Emily Sperandio, SFAT member. “Inflation has increased by 12% since the last bill passed in 2019, funding for necessary safety and security has increased, and the cost of education is higher, but the formula has not kept pace. It is time for the formulas to be fixed.”
SBISD’s required recapture payment will continue to increase if action is not taken. An increase will impact the district’s capabilities to sustain programs, services and resources families expect and deserve.
“The good news is that districts state-wide will be asking legislators to better fund public education,” said Chris Earnest, Board of Trustees president. “We have prepared our community to advocate for our district and let legislators know there must be increased state funding for public education.”
The next step is to expand the district’s capacity for community action. SFAT serves as a proactive strategy to develop a community that is educated on the matter and willing to advocate for SBISD.
“Educating the community and creating awareness around SBISD’s financial situation is key to motivating people to engage with lawmakers and push them for meaningful financial changes,” said Jennifer Espey, SFAT member. “When we make our voices heard, they listen and change happens.”
Do you have questions or want to get involved? Contact us via Let’s Connect or visit the SFAT site to learn when community meetings will take place. If you have a community group that would like to learn more on this topic, email email@example.com to schedule a presentation.